After multiple delays, SpaceX finally launched its Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon capsule on top today. The rocket lifted off early this morning with no issues noted so far. The main mission for SpaceX with the launch is to demonstrate its capsule and hopefully be the first to dock a private capsule with the ISS in history. SpaceX also had something else aboard the Falcon 9 rocket when it lifted off that you may not have heard about.
The second stage of the rocket had the cremated remains of 308 different people that were taken into orbit. The company responsible for sending the ashes into orbit was Celestis. Among the cremated remains sent into orbit were those of actor James Doohan, who played Scotty on the original Star Trek series. The cremated remains of Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper were also among the celebrities on board. This is the second time Celestis and SpaceX have worked together. The first time was in August of 2008 when the rocket failed to reach orbit.
Celestis held some of the remains back in case of such an issue. Luckily, the remains made it to orbit this time. The ashes were stored in a canister in the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, which separated from the Dragon capsule nine minutes into the flight. The second stage is expected orbit the earth for about a year before it falls back into the atmosphere and burns up. Putting ashes on a suborbital flight starts at $1000, launching into Earth orbit is $3000, and a trip to the moon is about $10,000. For those who really want to explore space in the afterlife, a deep space flight is $13,000. NASA did insist that the cremated contents pass all necessary safety requirements.
[via ABC News]